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Fighting Homelessness by Investing in Families

Community Relations EVP Ralph Boyd, Jr.Most of us couldn’t imagine what life is like for a child who doesn’t have a home. Or for a parent worrying about where their children will sleep that night. But this is the reality for the more than 11,000 people in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area who are homeless.

It’s a critical problem in the region, yet the face of homelessness is not what you might picture. Nearly half of the area’s homeless are families, and more than a quarter are children. While about one-third of homeless adults with families nationwide are employed, that figure doubles to 65 percent in high-cost rental markets like Fairfax County, Virginia. There, a family has to earn $28.73 an hour – $10 more than the national average – to afford decent rental housing at the fair market rate.

Housing is a basic need – and meeting that need can be a tremendous challenge for families that are struggling, particularly in tough economic times.

That’s why the Freddie Mac Foundation is focused so intently on helping families find stable homes. The Foundation – which is entirely self-funded through its endowment – partners with nonprofits to help families find and keep affordable housing, and build a better future for themselves.

Families like Tracy and her 10-year-old son. Tracy had always managed to provide a good home for the two of them, but they eventually found themselves living in their car after she lost her job in the recession. Tracy turned to Doorways for Women and Families for help. Soon afterwards, she and her son moved into the Freddie Mac Foundation Home run by Doorways.

This Arlington, Virginia, program provides housing with essential support services to stabilize families. They take a holistic approach focused on long-term sustainability. A family counselor helps parents find a job. A child specialist enrolls children back in school and connects them with counseling, mentoring, and tutoring services. Parenting coaching is also offered. Families work with a dedicated financial specialist to improve their situation by creating a budget, saving for rent, and paying down credit card debt.

Five months after Doorways took them in, Tracey and her son were able to make the move into an apartment of their own. Tracey now works in office administration and her son is a straight-A student.

The Freddie Mac Foundation continues to be a reliable funding resource in our community. The nonprofits we invest in provide a broad range of services that aren’t limited to families living in shelters or transitional housing. Organizations such as THC and Northern Virginia Family Service help families on the edge of homelessness stay in their homes through comprehensive services that can include case management, job training, and childcare. Foundation grantees like Covenant House provide shelter and support for homeless youth who have aged out of foster care.

The Foundation’s grantmaking program is outcome-based; in other words, we want to work with nonprofits that demonstrate measurable results for vulnerable children and families. I’m proud that our grantees have delivered, and are achieving inspiring results every day in their communities. We’re grateful for their commitment and all their hard work.

During this challenging time across the nation, the Freddie Mac Foundation remains committed to working hand in hand with our partners to make a real difference in the lives of children and families. Because an investment in a family is also an investment in a community – and now more than ever, that’s an investment worth making.

* Ralph Boyd left his position at Freddie Mac in February 2012


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